TBR News October 1, 2011

Oct 01 2011

December 25, 272 AD

First official public celebration of Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, a pagan Roman holiday that was later co-opted by Christians to celebrate the birth of their favorite Jew. Turning the holiday into “Christmas” (in 336 AD) was part of a pattern of the church stealing various pagan festivals and feast days



The Voice of the White House

          Washington, D.C., October 1, 2011: “The so-called War on Terrorists is an enormously expensive and totally useless political project that is being deliberately, and cynically, used by the government to crack down on any group or individual it wishes to.. And, more important, it permits a basis for allowing various official agencies to expand their territory and gain large amounts of operating capital from Congress. Because the world’s Muslim community views the United States to be a powerful ally of Israel and because Israel is constantly pushing America to attack Israel’s Muslim enemies, naturally this country would become, ipso facto, their enemy as well. George Washington said it best, “No entangling alliances,” but this has long been forgotten. Our government and the power elite of this country that controls the government has not forgotten the potentially very destructive surge of public outrage over the protracted war in Vietnam. They were terrified of huge public demonstrations, domestic violence, threats of the Weathermen and those who believe they control the nation do not want to ever confront this spectre of violent and widespread public unhappiness again. Ergo the imbecilic Tom Ridge mouthing off about ‘Purple Terror Days’ and advocating duct-taping all the windows. This sort of lying does indeed have an effect, but a short term one and eventually, the cries of ‘wolf! wolf! fall on deaf ears but instead of abandoning a course that has no profit, the government will blow up a few bridges or commit other easily seen atrocities to bolster their point, and the number of new agents they can add to the bloated ranks of badge-carrying control freaks.”


The FBI again thwarts its own Terror plot


September 29, 2011

by Glenn Greenwald


            The FBI has received substantial criticism over the past decade — much of it valid — but nobody can deny its record of excellence in thwarting its own Terrorist plots.  Time and again, the FBI concocts a Terrorist attack, infiltrates Muslim communities in order to find recruits, persuades them to perpetrate the attack, supplies them with the money, weapons and know-how they need to carry it out — only to heroically jump in at the last moment, arrest the would-be perpetrators whom the FBI converted, and save a grateful nation from the plot manufactured by the FBI. 

Last year, the FBI subjected 19-year-old Somali-American Mohamed Osman Mohamud to months of encouragement, support and money and convinced him to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon, only to arrest him at the last moment and then issue a Press Release boasting of its success.  In late 2009, the FBI persuaded and enabled Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a 19-year old Jordanian citizen, to place a fake bomb at a Dallas skyscraper and separately convinced Farooque Ahmed, a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen born in Pakistan, to bomb the Washington Metro.  And now, the FBI has yet again saved us all from its own Terrorist plot by arresting 26-year-old American citizen Rezwan Ferdaus after having spent months providing him with the plans and materials to attack the Pentagon, American troops in Iraq, and possibly the Capitol Building using “remote-controlled” model airplanes carrying explosives.

None of these cases entail the FBI’s learning of an actual plot and then infiltrating it to stop it.  They all involve the FBI’s purposely seeking out Muslims (typically young and impressionable ones) whom they think harbor animosity toward the U.S. and who therefore can be induced to launch an attack despite having never taken even a single step toward doing so before the FBI targeted them.  Each time the FBI announces it has disrupted its own plot, press coverage is predictably hysterical (new Homegrown Terrorist caught!), fear levels predictably rise, and new security measures are often implemented in response (the FBI’s Terror plot aimed at the D.C. Metro, for instance, led to the Metro Police announcing a new policy of random searches of passengers’ bags).   I have several observations and questions about these matters:

(1) The bulk of this latest FBI plot entailed attacks on military targets: the Pentagon, U.S. troops in Iraq, and possibly military bases.  The U.S. is — as it has continuously announced to the world — a Nation at War.  The Pentagon is the military headquarters for this war, and its troops abroad are the soldiers fighting it.  In what conceivable sense can attacks on those purely military and war targets be labeled “Terrorism” or even illegitimate?  The U.S. has continuously attacked exactly those kinds of targets in multiple nations around the world; it expressly tried to kill Saddam and Gadaffi in the wars against their countries (it even knowingly blew up an entire suburban apartment building to get Saddam, who wasn’t actually there).   What possible definition of “Terrorism” excludes those attacks by the U.S. while including this proposed one on the Pentagon and other military targets (or, for that matter, Nidal Hasan’s attack on Fort Hood where soldiers deploy to war zones)?

(2) With regard to the targeted building that is not purely a military target — the Capitol Building — is that a legitimate war target under the radically broad standards the U.S. and its allies have promulgated for themselves?  The American “shock and awe” assault on Baghdad destroyed “several government buildings and palaces built by Saddam Hussein”; on just the third day of that war, “U.S. bombs turn[ed] key government buildings in Baghdad into rubble.”  In Libya, NATO repeatedly bombed non-military government buildings.  In Gaza, Israeli war planes targeted a police station filled with police recruits on the stated theory that a valid target “ranges from the strictly military institutions and includes the political institutions that provide the logistical funding and human resources” to Hamas.  

Obviously, there is a wide range of views regarding the justifiability of each war, but isn’t the U.S. Congress — which funds, oversees, and regulates America’s wars — a legitimate war target under the (inadvisedly) broad definitions the U.S. and its allies have imposed when attacking others?  If the political leaders and even functionaries of other countries with which the U.S. is at war are legitimate targets, then doesn’t that necessarily mean that Pentagon officials and, arguably, those in the Congress are as well?

(3) The irony that this plot featured “remote-controlled aircraft filled with plastic explosives” is too glaring to merit comment; the only question worth asking is whether the U.S. Government can sue Ferdaus for infringing its drone patents.  Glaring though that irony is, there is no shortage of expressions of disgust today, pondering what kind of dastardly Terrorist monster does it take to want to attack buildings with remote-controlled mini-aircraft.

(4) Wouldn’t the FBI’s resources be better spent on detecting and breaking up actual Terrorist plots — if there are any — rather than manufacturing ones so that they can stop those?  Harboring hatred for the U.S. and wanting to harm it (or any country) is not actually a crime; at most, it’s a Thought Crime.  It doesn’t become a crime until steps are taken to attempt to transform that desire into reality.  There are millions and millions of people who at some point harbor a desire to impose violent harm on others who never do so: perhaps that’s true of a majority of human beings.  Many of them will never act in the absence of the type of highly sophisticated, expert push of which the FBI is uniquely capable.  Is manufacturing criminals — as opposed to finding and stopping actual criminals — really a prudent law enforcement activity?

(5) Does the FBI devote any comparable resources to infiltrating non-Muslim communities in order to persuade and induce those extremists to become Terrorists so that they can arrest them?  Are they out in the anti-abortion world, or the world of radical Christianity, or right-wing anti-government radicals, trying to recruit them into manufactured Terrorist plots?

(6) As usual, most media coverage of the FBI’s plots is as uncritical as it is sensationalistic.  The first paragraph of The New York Times article on this story described the plot as one “to blow up the Pentagon and the United States Capitol.”  But the FBI’s charging Affidavit (reproduced below) makes clear that Ferdaus’ plan was to send a single model airplane (at most 1/10 the size of an actual U.S. jet) to the Capitol and two of them to the Pentagon, each packed with “5 pounds” of explosives (para. 70); the Capitol was to be attacked at its dome for “psychological effect” (para 34).  The U.S. routinely drops 500-pound or 1,000-pound bombs from actual fighter jets; this plot — even if it were carried out by someone other than a hapless loner with no experience and it worked perfectly — could not remotely “blow up” the Pentagon or the Capitol.

(7) As is now found in almost every case of would-be Terrorist plots against the U.S. — especially “homegrown Terrorists” — the motive is unbridled fury over (and a desire to avenge) continuous U.S violence against Muslim civilians.  Infused throughout the charging Affidavit here are such references to Ferdaus’ motives, including his happiness over the prospect of killing U.S. troops in Iraq; his proclamation that he’s “interested in traveling to Afghanistan” to aid insurgents; his statement that “he wanted to ‘decapitate’ the U.S. government’s ‘military center’ and to severely disrupt . . . the head and heart of the snake” (para 12) and to “essentially decapitate the entire empire” (para 34) (compare that language to how the U.S. described what it tried to do in Baghdad).  Using drones to decapitate the leadership and government infrastructure of a nation at war; I wonder where he got that idea.

At least according to the FBI, this is how Feradus replied when expressly asked why he wanted to attack the U.S.:

Cause that would be a huge scare . . . the point is you want to scare them so they know not to mess with you . . . They have . . . . have killed from us, our innocents, our men, women and children, they are all enemies (para 19).

If the FBI’s allegations are accurate, then it’s clear Ferdaus has become hardened in his hatred; he talks about a willingness to kill American civilians because they have become part of the enemy, and claims that he fantasized about such attacks before the FBI informant spoke to him.  

But whatever else is true,  it’s simply unrealistic in the extreme to expect to run around for a full decade screaming WE ARE AT WAR!! — and dropping bombs and attacking with drones and shooting up families in multiple Muslim countries (and occupying, interfering in and killing large numbers before that) — and not produce many Rezwan Ferdauses.  In fact, the only surprising thing is that these seem to be so few of them actually willing and able to attack back that — in order to justify this Endless War on civil liberties (and Terror) — the FBI has to search for ones they can recruit, convert, convince, fund, and direct to carry out plots.


Military community exasperated at prospect of prolonged shutdown threats

September 27, 2011

by Leo Shane III

Stars and Stripes

             WASHINGTON — Same story, different budget deadline, same headaches for veterans

            After several days of threats of federal furloughs and disruption of military pay, Congress avoided another government shutdown Monday night by agreeing to a six-week temporary budget plan.

            The move delays the next budget showdown until November but doesn’t calm the frustration of veterans who have seen their benefits and military programs held hostage by partisan squabbles three times in the last six months.

            “It’s insane to think that during wartime, military families could be endangered because Congress can’t do their job,” said Tom Tarantino, senior legislative associate for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “Military pay and programs should not be threatened at the whim of politicians.”

In March, the first time congressional infighting threatened a lengthy budget stalemate, Pentagon officials announced that a partial government shutdown would mean furloughs for some defense employees and possibly work without pay for troops. Commissaries and some other key base offices would be closed, and Veterans Affairs officials warned some retiree services could be disrupted.

Those fears never became reality, as Democratic and Republican leaders reached a last-minute agreement funding the federal budget until Oct. 1. But the issues resurfaced again during the debt ceiling debate in August, and again last week as that Oct. 1 deadline loomed.

The shutdown threats have become so routine that VA and Defense Department officials didn’t even bother to offer new guidance on how to prepare for possible office closings and paycheck delays, instead dusting off plans originally written in March. 

Peter Gaytan, executive director of the American Legion, said each shutdown threat brings numerous concerned phone calls to his office, most trying to determine how active-duty troops will be hurt

“That’s their main concern, making sure that the men and women in uniform are protected,” he said. “But there’s also a collective sigh, a ‘Here we go again’ feeling.”

That opinion goes beyond just the federal workers most affected by a possible shutdown. 

“The public is just fed up with Washington,” said Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “Dissatisfaction is deep. Views of Congress are close to all time-lows. I don’t see that turning around any time soon.”

Tarantino said even if lawmakers can’t tamp down the partisan politics, some of that frustration his members feel could be prevented if Congress would pass protections for military pay and benefits.

Earlier this month, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., introduced legislation that would guarantee troops receive their regular salary and living expenses if the federal government is forced to shut down. In a statement, Amash said the paycheck protection is necessary because “our brave men and women in uniform should not be used as pawns in Washington political games.

But his is the fifth such bill introduced since the spring (and lawmakers have offered similar amendments to other bills) without success, despite public pledges from dozens of lawmakers. None has made significant progress.

“Our veterans and retirees, they’re worried, but they won’t feel the impact as much as a military family that loses a paycheck,” he said. “It’s hard to pay [for] the groceries with only a blog post from the government promising you’ll get paid eventually.”

The agreement worked out Monday night extends the federal budget until Nov. 18 but does not include any of those military paycheck protections. Congress will have to approve new budgets for fiscal 2012 before that deadline or pass another temporary extension in order to stave off another shutdown threat.

“So we’re just going to do this again in two months,” Tarantino said.


Sep 27,

Man charged after 4,000 pounds of explosives found  

September 27, 2011by John Flesher 
Associated Press

             TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Federal authorities say a Michigan man bought and hid more than 4,000 pounds of explosives with enough potential firepower to equal the Oklahoma City bombing and told an undercover informant that “when the government takes over, we will be mercenaries.”

John Francis Lechner, 64, was arrested last week on a charge of possessing explosives while facing other charges and ordered held following a U.S. District Court hearing Monday. His attorney said Lechner, a builder and farmer from Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula, obtained the materials years ago for construction projects.

“He’s not a terrorist, he’s not a mercenary, he’s not some freedom fighter,” defense attorney Charles Malette told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “He intended no type of violence, pro- or anti-government. The man is not like that.”

Prosecutors and agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not accuse Lechner of plotting to detonate the mixture of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. Assistant U.S. Attorney Maarten Vermaat told the AP he had “no idea” what Lechner planned to do with the materials.

The federal charges were filed about a month after Lechner was booked on several counts in Chippewa County, including larceny by false pretense, assaulting and resisting officers, falsely reporting a felony and being a habitual offender. Malette said those charges arose from incidents linked to Lechner’s pending divorce.

In an affidavit dealing with the federal charges, ATF agent Timothy DeClaire said an informant told the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department that Lechner asked for help moving the explosive mixture from Sault Ste. Marie and hiding it in Dafter, a village a few miles away. The informant wore a recording device while performing the task Sept. 20. The affidavit said a sheriff’s detective listened to the recording and heard Lechner’s remark about “mercenaries.”

DeClaire said he obtained a search warrant the same day and found 83 bags of the mixture, each weighing about 50 pounds. The combined weight was about 4,150 pounds. The next day, he found a supply of explosive boosters, detonating cord and blasting caps at Lechner’s mother’s nearby home. Another box of blasting caps was recovered in Sault Ste. Marie, he said.

During the hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Greeley asked how big an explosion could result from detonating the materials.

“The quantity we’re talking about would be at least that of an Oklahoma City bombing or more,” DeClaire replied, according to The Mining Journal of Marquette ( http://bit.ly/nIoxFU ).

Sonja Everitt, resident agent in charge of ATF’s field office in Grand Rapids, told the AP she agreed with DeClaire. If correctly packaged and detonated, “4,100 pounds could cause a substantial amount of damage,” Everitt said.

DeClaire’s affidavit said several of the bags bore labels from companies in Iowa and Ohio. Federal law prohibits a person charged with a crime punishable by more than one year in prison from possessing an explosive shipped across state lines.

He also testified that Lechner traveled twice to Cuba in 2008, both times flying from Toronto, The Mining Journal reported.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Greeley approved Vermaat’s request to keep Lechner in jail, describing the Cuba trips as “troubling.”

“He was making efforts to hide (the explosives) from the ATF, as the testimony indicates, and made anti-government statements,” Greeley said, according to the newspaper. “There is significant evidence of a danger to the community, which has gone unrebutted.”

Malette said he told his client not to respond during the hearing. But he said Lechner bought the ammonium nitrate and oil more than five years ago.

“It’s one of the safest materials used for demolition involved with construction,” Malette said. “Many types of chemicals could be used to make a bomb. I think that comment (about Oklahoma City) was made to make people think he was a terrorist.”

Lechner’s clash with local authorities began in late May.

County Prosecutor Brian Peppler said Lechner had been collecting rent on a house he didn’t own, which resulted in the larceny by false pretense charge. The owner of the house asked police to remove him from the property. That led to a disturbance and the charge of assaulting an officer, Peppler said. Lechner was charged with falsely reporting a felony after he accused the county sheriff of trying to ram his vehicle during the incident, the prosecutor said.

Peppler declined to identify the homeowner, but Malette said it was Lechner’s estranged wife. He said ownership of the dwelling was being contested in court.

Malette said his client filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department and the county over the incident at the home and complained about it during a county board meeting.

“Mr. Lechner is one of those guys that speaks his mind,” Malette said. “He doesn’t pull any punches, and I think he’s rubbed a few people in the area the wrong way.”

Bitter ex-husband stuffed raw chicken into air vents of ex-wife’s house, ruined hardwood floors

September 23, 2011

by  Larry McShane

New York Daily News


She got the house and the grand piano, and he got convicted for vandalizing both.

A bitter Colorado divorce case ended with a kooky statehouse lobbyist facing 18 years behind bars for a ruinous rampage through his estranged wife’s home.

Ronald Smith, 58, of Denver, was found guilty of stuffing raw chicken into the air vents of his now ex-wife’s house, pouring bleach into her grand piano and targeting other objects of sentimental value.

He also donned a pair of cleated mountain boots and stomped across the home’s new hardwood floors.

Smith was arrested for breaking into Michelle Young‘s residence to inflict thousands of dollars in damages as the couple’s contentious divorce wrapped up in September 2010.

A Colorado jury, after a two-week trial, convicted him of second-degree burglary and criminal mischief following six hours of deliberations.

According to prosecutors, Smith began harassing his estranged spouse when the divorce papers were filed in 2009.

He reportedly sent threatening text messages and e-mail, warning that he would leave Young “penniless.”

“If I have to ruin my life to ruin yours, I will do that,” Smith wrote in one.

Young later told police she caught her ex-husband peering through her bedroom window, and that he left a note on her backdoor declaring that she had recently died.

Jurors rejected the defense argument that Young caused all the damage herself – and then blamed her husband in an act of revenge.


Online dating scams dupe 200,000, study finds

Number of unreported cases likely to be far higher as individual losses range from £50 to £240,000

September 27, 2011

by Peter Walker

The Guardian,

More than 200,000 people in Britain may have been conned by fraudsters posing as would-be romantic partners on internet dating sites, according to the first study examining the potential scale of the problem.

Anti-fraud groups have warned for some time about scams, in which criminals create a false identity – often an army officer on active service, explaining an inability to meet in person – and develop a close online intimacy with a victim, who is then asked for cash to help their presumed suitor out of a crisis.

It had long been suspected that official figures for such crimes greatly under-represented their prevalence, largely because many victims feel too embarrassed or hurt to go to the police, or never realise they have been conned.

The study by the universities of Leicester and Westminster, working with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), found 2% of people surveyed personally knew someone who had experienced the crime. Extrapolating this to the online UK population means more than 200,000 potential victims.

Monica Whitty, a psychologist and professor of contemporary media at Leicester University, said that the pool of those targeted was likely to be greater still as it did not include people who realised what was happening before they lost money and those who still did not realise they had been conned.

The researchers had been “shocked” at the numbers involved, she said.

There has been an assumption that victims tend to be middle-aged women. However, said Whitty, targets were from both genders and all age groups.

Aside from the financial costs involved – Soca has tracked individual losses ranging from £50 to £240,000 – those conned also faced the heartbreak of discovering that the person with whom they had fallen in love was the invention of a skilled con artist, usually Nigerian or Ghanaian, and often not even of the same gender.

“A lot of people find it very hard to accept what has happened, even if they know the person involved is now in jail,” Whitty said.

“We’ve had male victims who still refer to the other person as ‘she’, even though they now know it was a man.

“In a few cases they’ve found the relationship so therapeutic they keep it going, even if they know they’ve been conned.”

The scams often begin with an online dating site profile carrying a notably attractive photo, taken from elsewhere on the internet, and a description of someone in a remote, hard-to-contact location – whether a military base in Afghanistan or, to tempt male victims, a UK or US nurse at a small foreign hospital.

The use of almost exclusively online communication – the criminals occasionally resort to phone calls but these are rare given the extra difficulty of explaining away an accent – can actually accelerate intimacy, Whitty said, allowing victims to project their own hopes and desires on to a warm and empathic correspondent.

“Email and instant messaging can have the effect of being hyper-personal. Lots of people get in touch with someone through a dating site, meet them a few weeks later and this person doesn’t live up to their expectations. With an online relationship this never happens.”

The faked romances can last for a long time – the longest the researchers heard of was five years – with each criminal juggling a series of parallel relationships. At some point comes the request for urgent financial assistance, often to help them out of supposed difficulty.

“They might test the waters by asking for a present, for example saying they’ve lost their mobile phone and need another one. If this happens, they’ll ask for money. It’s like a clever marketing ploy.”

Very few cases are seemingly reported. A spokesman for the UK’s National Fraud Authority said the agency had learned of 730 crimes over the past 15 months, totalling £8m in losses.

The survey, covering more than 2,000 people, found that just over half were aware that such romance scams existed.

While this was a positive sign, Colin Woodcock of Soca said, significant numbers of people remained at risk.

“The perpetrators spend long periods of time grooming their victims, working out their vulnerabilities and when the time is right to ask for money,” he said.

“By being aware of how to stay safe online, members of the UK public can ensure they don’t join those who have lost nearly every penny they had, been robbed of their self-respect, and in some cases, committed suicide after being exploited, relentlessly, by these criminals.”

How to spot a dating scam

Soca has compiled a list of tell-tale signs for people to look out for if they suspect their internet suitor is a con artist.

• A distant location and/or a job in the military: by pretending to be serving in, for example, Afghanistan, or on an oil rig, the scammer has a convenient excuse for being unable to chat on the phone or in person. When men are targeted, the other party often tends to be a nurse working in a remote country.

• A fondness for Windows Messenger or similar applications: aware that dating sites are increasingly conscious of such cons, the perpetrators can be keen to continue their wooing elsewhere.

• A suspiciously attractive and/or rugged-looking photo: of course, not every good-looking person lurking on a dating site is a fraudster. But the con artists tend to select particularly alluring physical alter egos, which they borrow from elsewhere on the internet.

• A quick adoption of a pet name: if, by the second email, you are being addressed as “dearest fluffy bunny”, beware – it could be a fraudster looking to establish instant intimacy.

• A predisposition towards financial or other misfortunes: it is perhaps the most obvious tip, but if a suitor you have never met suddenly crashes their car, or needs an expensive airfare or a lawyer, be on your guard. The same goes if they start alluding to gold bullion or suitcases full of cash they hope to bring to the UK.


BFP Breaking News: Confirmed Identity of the CIA Official behind 9/11, Rendition & Torture Cases is Revealed

Wednesday, 21. September 2011 by Sibel Edmonds

Alfreda Frances Bikowsky: The Current Director of the CIA Global Jihad Unit

BNBoiling Frogs Post has now confirmed the identity of the CIA analyst at the heart of a notorious failure in the run-up to the September 11th tragedy. Her name is Alfreda Frances Bikowsky and she is the current director of the CIA Jihad Unit. Through three credible sources and documents we have confirmed Ms. Bikowsky’s former titles and positions, including her start at the CIA as an analyst for the Soviet Desk, her position as one of the case officers at the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit-Alec Station, her central role and direct participation in the CIA’s rendition-torture and black sites operations, and her current position as director of the CIA’s Global Jihad Unit.

The producers Nowosielski and Duffy have now made both names available at their website. They also identify the second CIA culprit as Michael Anne Casey. We have not been able to obtain confirmation by other sources on this person yet, but we are still working on it.

Alfreda Frances Bikowsky is the person described in New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side as having flown in to watch the waterboarding of terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammad without being assigned to do so. “Its not supposed to be entertainment,” superiors were said to have told her. She was also at the center of “the el-Masri incident,” in which an innocent German citizen was kidnapped by the CIA in 2003 and held under terrible conditions without charges for five months in a secret Afghan prison. The AP characterized it as “one of the biggest diplomatic embarrassments of the U.S. war on terrorism.”

Both the previous and current administrations appear to have deemed Alfreda Frances Bikowsky’s direct involvement in intentional obstruction of justice, intentional cover up, lying to Congress, and overseeing rendition-kidnapping-torture practices as qualifying factors to have kept promoting her. She now leads the CIA’s Global Jihad Unit and is a close advisor to President Obama


Decline and fall of just about everyone
by Pepe Escobar

            More than 10 years ago, before 9/11, Goldman Sachs was predicting that the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) would make the world economy’s top 10 – but not until 2040. Skip a decade and the Chinese economy already has the number two spot all to itself, Brazil is number seven, India 10, and even Russia is creeping closer. In purchasing power parity, or PPP, things look even better. There, China is in second place, India is now fourth, Russia sixth, and Brazil seventh.
            No wonder Jim O’Neill, who coined the neologism BRIC and is now chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, has been stressing that “the world is no longer dependent on the leadership of the US and Europe”. After all, since 2007, China’s economy has grown by 45%, the American economy by less than 1% – figures startling enough to make anyone take back their predictions.
            American anxiety and puzzlement reached new heights when the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) projections indicated that, at least by certain measurements, the Chinese economy would overtake the US by 2016. (Until recently, Goldman Sachs was pointing towards 2050 for that first-place exchange.)
            Within the next 30 years, the top five will, according to Goldman Sachs, likely be China, the US, India, Brazil and Mexico. Western Europe? Bye-bye!

A system stripped to its essence

             Increasing numbers of experts agree that Asia is now leading the way for the world, even as it lays bare glaring gaps in the West’s narrative of civilization. Yet to talk about “the decline of the West” is a dangerous proposition. A key historical reference is Oswald Spengler’s 1918 essay with that title. Spengler, a man of his times, thought that humanity functioned through unique cultural systems, and that Western ideas would not be pertinent for, or transferable to, other regions of the planet. (Tell that howler to the young Egyptians in Tahrir Square.)
            Spengler captured the Western-dominated zeitgeist of another century. He saw cultures as living and dying organisms, each with a unique soul. The East or Orient was “magical”, while the West was “Faustian”. A reactionary misanthrope, he was convinced that the West had already reached the supreme status available to a democratic civilization – and so was destined to experience the “decline” of his title.
            If you’re thinking that this sounds like an avant-la-lettre Huntingtonesque “clash of civilizations”, you can be excused, because that’s exactly what it was.
            Speaking of civilizational clashes, did anyone notice that “maybe” in a recent Time cover story picking up on Spenglerian themes and headlined “The Decline and Fall of Europe (and Maybe the West)”? In our post-Spenglerian moment, the “West” is surely the United States, and how could that magazine get it so wrong? Maybe?
            After all, a Europe now in deep financial crisis will be “in decline” as long as it remains inextricably intertwined with and continues to defer to “the West” – that is, Washington – even as it witnesses the simultaneous economic ascent of what’s sometimes derisively referred to as “the South.”
            Think of the present global capitalist moment not as a “clash”, but a “cash of civilizations”.
            If Washington is now stunned and operating on autopilot, that’s in part because, historically speaking, its moment as the globe’s “sole superpower” or even “hyperpower” barely outlasted Andy Warhol’s notorious 15 minutes of fame – from the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union to 9/11 and George W Bush’s doctrine. The new American century was swiftly throttled in three hubris-filled stages: 9/11 (blowback); the invasion of Iraq (preemptive war); and the 2008 Wall Street meltdown (casino capitalism).
             Meanwhile, one may argue that Europe still has its non-Western opportunities, that, in fact, the periphery increasingly dreams with European – not American – subtitles. The Arab Spring, for instance, was focused on European-style parliamentary democracies, not an American presidential system. In addition, however financially anxious it may be, Europe remains the world’s largest market. In an array of technological fields, it now rivals or outpaces the US, while regressive Persian Gulf monarchies splurge on euros (and prime real estate in Paris and London) to diversify their portfolios.
            Yet, with “leaders” like the neo-Napoleonic President Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister David (of Arabia) Cameron, Premier Silvio (“bunga bunga”) Berlusconi, and Chancellor Angela (“Dear Prudence”) Merkel largely lacking imagination or striking competence, Europe certainly doesn’t need enemies.
            Decline or not, it might find a whole new lease on life by sidelining its Atlanticism and boldly betting on its Euro-Asian destiny. It could open up its societies, economies, and cultures to China, India, and Russia, while pushing southern Europe to connect far more deeply with a rising Turkey, the rest of the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa (and not via further North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) “humanitarian” bombings either).
            Otherwise, the facts on the ground spell out something that goes well beyond the decline of the West: it’s the decline of a system in the West that, in these last years, is being stripped to its grim essence. Historian Eric Hobsbawm caught the mood of the moment when he wrote in his book How to Change the World that “the world transformed by capitalism”, which Karl Marx described in 1848 “in passages of dark, laconic eloquence is recognizably the world of the early twenty-first century”.
            In a landscape in which politics is being reduced to a (broken) mirror reflecting finance, and in which producing and saving have been superseded by consuming, something systemic comes into view. As in the famous line of poet William Butler Yeats, “the centre cannot hold” – and it won’t either.
            If the West ceases to be the center, what exactly went wrong?

Are you with me or against me?

            It’s worth remembering that capitalism was “civilized” thanks to the unrelenting pressure of gritty working-class movements and the ever-present threat of strikes and even revolutions. The existence of the Soviet bloc, an alternate model of economic development (however warped), also helped.
            To counteract the USSR, Washington’s and Europe’s ruling groups had to buy the support of their masses in defending what no one blushed about calling “the Western way of life”. A complex social contract was forged, and it involved capital making concessions.
            No more. Not in Washington, that’s obvious. And increasingly, not in Europe either. That system started breaking down as soon as – talk about total ideological triumph! – neo-liberalism became the only show in town. There was a single superhighway from there and it swept the most fragile strands of the middle class directly into a new post-industrial proletariat, or simply into unemployable status.
            If neo-liberalism is the victor for now, it’s because no realist, alternative developmental model exists, and yet what it has won is ever more in question. Meanwhile, except in the Middle East, progressives the world over are paralyzed, as if expecting the old order to dissolve by itself. Unfortunately, history teaches us that, at similar crossroads in the past, you are as likely to find the grapes of wrath, right-wing populist-style, as anything else – or worse yet, outright fascism.
            “The West against the rest” is a simplistic formula that doesn’t begin to describe such a world. Imagine instead, a planet in which “the rest” are trying to step beyond the West in a variety of ways, but also have absorbed that West in ways too deep to describe. Here’s the irony, then: yes, the West will “decline”, Washington included, and still it will leave itself behind everywhere.

Sorry, your model sucks

             Suppose you’re a developing country, shopping in the developmental supermarket. You look at China and think you see something new – a consensus model that’s turning on the lights everywhere – or do you? After all, the Chinese version of an economic boom with no political freedom may not turn out to be much of a model for other countries to follow.
            In many ways, it may be more like an inapplicable lethal artifact, a cluster bomb made up of shards of the Western concept of modernity married to a Leninist-based formula where a single party controls personnel, propaganda, and – crucially – the People’s Liberation Army.
            At the same time, this is a system evidently trying to prove that, even though the West unified the world – from neo-colonialism to globalization – that shouldn’t imply it’s bound to rule forever in material or intellectual terms.
            For its part, Europe is hawking a model of supra-national integration as a means of solving problems and conflicts from the Middle East to Africa. But any shopper can now see evidence of a European Union on the verge of cracking amid non-stop inter-European bickering that includes national revolts against the euro, discontent over NATO’s role as a global Robocop, and a style of ongoing European cultural arrogance that makes it incapable of recognizing, to take one example, why the Chinese model is so successful in Africa.
            Or let’s say our shopper looks to the United States, that country still being, after all, the world’s number one economy, its dollar still the world’s reserve currency, and its military still number one in destructive power and still garrisoning much of the globe.
            That would indeed seem impressive, if it weren’t for the fact that Washington is visibly on the decline, oscillating wildly between a lame populism and a stale orthodoxy, and shilling for casino capitalism on a side street in its spare time. It’s a giant power enveloped in political and economic paralysis for all the world to see, and no less visibly incapable of coming up with an exit strategy.
            Really, would you buy a model from any of them? In fact, where in a world in escalating disarray is anyone supposed to look these days when it comes to models? One of the key reasons for the Arab Spring was out-of-control food prices, driven significantly by speculation. Protests and riots in Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Austria and Turkey were direct consequences of the global recession. In Spain, nearly half of 16- to 29-year-olds – an overeducated “lost generation” – are now out of jobs, a European record.
            That may be the worst in Europe, but in Britain, 20% of 16- to 24-year-olds are unemployed, about average for the rest of the European Union. In London, almost 25% of working-age people are unemployed. In France, 13.5% of the population is now officially poor – that is, living on less than $1,300 a month.
            As many across Western Europe see it, the state has already breached the social contract. The indignados of Madrid have caught the spirit of the moment perfectly: “We’re not against the system, it’s the system that is against us.”
            This spells out the essence of the abject failure of neo-liberal capitalism, as David Harvey explained in his latest book, The Enigma of Capital. He makes clear how a political economy “of mass dispossession, of predatory practices to the point of daylight robbery, particularly of the poor and the vulnerable, the unsophisticated and the legally unprotected, has become the order of the day”.

Will Asia save global capitalism?

             Meanwhile, Beijing is too busy remixing its destiny as the global Middle Kingdom – deploying engineers, architects, and infrastructure workers of the non-bombing variety from Canada to Brazil, Cuba to Angola – to be much distracted by the Atlanticist travails in MENA (aka the region that includes the Middle East and Northern Africa).
            If the West is in trouble, global capitalism is being given a reprieve – how brief we don’t know – by the emergence of an Asian middle class, not only in China and India, but also in Indonesia (240 million people in boom mode) and Vietnam (85 million). I never cease to marvel when I compare the instant wonders and real-estate bubble of the present moment in Asia to my first experiences living there in 1994, when such countries were still in the “Asian Tiger”, pre-1997-financial-crisis years.
            In China alone, 300 million people – “only” 23% of the total population – now live in medium-sized to major urban areas and enjoy what’s always called “disposable incomes”. They, in fact, constitute something like a nation unto themselves, an economy already two-thirds that of Germany’s.
            The McKinsey Global Institute notes that the Chinese middle class now comprises 29% of the Middle Kingdom’s 190 million households, and will reach a staggering 75% of 372 million households by 2025 (if, of course, China’s capitalist experiment hasn’t gone off some cliff by then and its potential real-estate/finance bubble hasn’t popped and drowned the society).
            In India, with its population of 1.2 billion, there are already, according to McKinsey, 15 million households with an annual income of up to $10,000; in five years, a projected 40 million households, or 200 million people, will be in that income range. And in India in 2011, as in China in 2001, the only way is up (again as long as that reprieve lasts).
            Americans may find it surreal (or start packing their expat bags), but an annual income of less than $10,000 means a comfortable life in China or Indonesia, while in the United States, with a median household income of roughly $50,000, one is practically poor.
            Nomura Securities predicts that in a mere three years, retail sales in China will overtake the US and that, in this way, the Asian middle class may indeed “save” global capitalism for a time – but at a price so steep that Mother Nature is plotting some seriously catastrophic revenge in the form of what used to be called climate change and is now more vividly known simply as “weird weather”.

Back in the USA

             Meanwhile, in the United States, Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Barack Obama continues to insist that we all live on an American planet, exceptionally so. If that line still resonates at home, though, it’s an ever harder sell in a world in which the first Chinese stealth fighter jet goes for a test spin while the American Secretary of Defense is visiting China.
            Or when the news agency Xinhua, echoing its master Beijing, fumes against the “irresponsible” Washington politicians who starred in the recent debt-ceiling circus, and points to the fragility of a system “saved ” from free fall by the Fed’s promise to shower free money on banks for at least two years.
            Nor is Washington being exactly clever in confronting the leadership of its largest creditor, which holds $3.2 trillion in US currency reserves, 40% of the global total, and is always puzzled by the continued lethal export of “democracy for dummies” from American shores to the Af-Pak war zones, Iraq, Libya and other hot spots in the Greater Middle East. Beijing knows well that any further US-generated turbulence in global capitalism could slash its exports, collapse its property bubble, and throw the Chinese working classes into a pretty hardcore revolutionary mode.
            This means – despite rising voices of the Rick Perry/Michele Bachmann variety in the US – that there’s no “evil” Chinese conspiracy against Washington or the West. In fact, behind China’s leap beyond Germany as the world’s top exporter and its designation as the factory of the world lies a significant amount of production that’s actually controlled by American, European, and Japanese companies.
            Again, the decline of the West, yes – but the West is already so deep in China that it’s not going away any time soon. Whoever rises or falls, there remains, as of this moment, only a one-stop-shopping developmental system in the world, fraying in the Atlantic, booming in the Pacific.
            If any Washington hopes about “changing” China are a mirage, when it comes to capitalism’s global monopoly, who knows what reality may turn out to be?

Wasteland redux

            The proverbial bogeymen of our world – Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Mahmud Ahmadinejad (how curious, all Muslims!) – are clearly meant to act like so many mini-black holes absorbing all our fears. But they won’t save the West from its decline, or the former sole superpower from its comeuppance.
            Yale’s Paul Kennedy, that historian of decline, would undoubtedly remind us that history will sweep away American hegemony as surely as autumn replaces summer (as surely as European colonialism was swept away, NATO’s “humanitarian” wars notwithstanding).
            Already in 2002, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, world-system expert Immanuel Wallerstein was framing the debate this way in his book The Decline of American Power: the question wasn’t whether the United States was in decline, but if it could find a way to fall gracefully, without too much damage to itself or the world. The answer in the years since has been clear enough: no.
            Who can doubt that, 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, the great global story of 2011 has been the Arab Spring, itself certainly a subplot in the decline of the West? As the West wallowed in a mire of fear, Islamophobia, financial and economic crisis, and even, in Britain, riots and looting, from Northern Africa to the Middle East, people risked their lives to have a crack at Western democracy.
            That dream has been at least partially derailed, thanks to the medieval House of Saud and its Persian Gulf minions barging in with a ruthless strategy of counter-revolution, while NATO lent a helping hand by changing the narrative to a “humanitarian” bombing campaign meant to reassert Western greatness.
            As NATO’s secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen put the matter bluntly, “If you’re not able to deploy troops beyond your borders, then you can’t exert influence internationally, and then that gap will be filled by emerging powers that don’t necessarily share your values and thinking.”
            So let’s break the situation down as 2011 heads for winter. As far as MENA is concerned, NATO’s business is to keep the US and Europe in the game, the BRICS members out of it, and the “natives” in their places. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic world, the middle classes barely hang on in quiet desperation, even as, in the Pacific, China booms, and globally the whole world holds its breath for the next economic shoe to drop in the West (and then the one after that).
            Pity there’s no neo-TS Eliot to chronicle this shabby, neo-Medievalist wasteland taking over the Atlanticist axis. When capitalism hits the intensive care unit, the ones who pay the hospital bill are always the most vulnerable – and the bill is invariably paid in blood.

            Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

Fradulent Holocaust Literature

by Norman Finkelstein

             Articulating the key Holocaust dogmas, much of the literature on Hitler’s Final Solution is worthless as scholarship. Indeed, the field of Holocaust studies is replete with nonsense, if not sheer fraud. Especially revealing is the cultural milieu that nurtures this Holocaust literature. 

The first major Holocaust hoax was The Painted Bird, by Polish émigré Jerzy Kosinski. The book was “written in English,” Kosinski explained, so that “I could write dispassionately, free from the emotional connotation one’s native language always contains.” In fact, whatever parts he actually wrote — an unresolved question — were written in Polish. The book was purported to be Kosinski’s autobiographical account of his wanderings as a solitary child through rural Poland during World War II. In fact, Kosinski lived with his parents throughout the war. The book’s motif is the sadistic sexual tortures perpetrated by the Polish peasantry. Pre-publication readers derided it as a “pornography of violence” and “the product of a mind obsessed with sadomasochistic violence.” In fact, Kosinski conjured up almost all the pathological episodes he narrates. The book depicts the Polish peasants he lived with as virulently anti-Semitic. “Beat the Jews,” they jeer. “Beat the bastards.” In fact, Polish peasants harbored the Kosinski family even though they were fully aware of their Jewishness and the dire consequences they themselves faced if caught. 

In the New York Times Book Review, Elie Wiesel acclaimed The Painted Bird as “one of the best” indictments of the Nazi era, “written with deep sincerity and sensitivity.” Cynthia Ozick later gushed that she “immediately” recognized Kosinski’s authenticity as “a Jewish survivor and witness to the Holocaust.” Long after Kosinski was exposed as a consummate literary hoaxer, Wiesel continued to heap encomiums on his “remarkable body of work.” 

The Painted Bird became a basic Holocaust text. It was a best-seller and award-winner, translated into numerous languages, and required reading in high school and college classes. Doing the Holocaust circuit, Kosinski dubbed himself a “cut-rate Elie Wiesel.” (Those unable to afford Wiesel’s speaking fee — “silence” doesn’t come cheap — turned to him.) Finally exposed by an investigative newsweekly, Kosinski was still stoutly defended by the New York Times, which alleged that he was the victim of a Communist plot. 

A more recent fraud, Binjamin Wilkomirski’s Fragments, borrows promiscuously from the Holocaust kitsch of The Painted Bird. Like Kosinski, Wilkomirski portrays himself as a solitary child survivor who becomes mute, winds up in an orphanage and only belatedly discovers that he is Jewish. Like The Painted Bird, the chief narrative conceit of Fragments is the simple, pared-down voice of a child-naif, also allowing time frames and place names to remain vague. Like The Painted Bird, each chapter of Fragments climaxes in an orgy of violence. Kosinski represented The Painted Bird as “the slow unfreezing of the mind”; Wilkomirski represents Fragments as “recovered memory.” 

A hoax cut out of whole cloth, Fragments is nevertheless the archetypal Holocaust memoir. It is set first in the concentration camps, where every guard is a crazed, sadistic monster joyfully cracking the skulls of Jewish newborns. Yet, the classic memoirs of the Nazi concentration camps concur with Auschwitz survivor Dr. Ella Lingens-Reiner: “There were few sadists. Not more than five or ten percent.” Ubiquitous German sadism figures prominently, however, in Holocaust literature. Doing double service, it “documents” the unique irrationality of The Holocaust as well as the fanatical anti-Semitism of the perpetrators. 

The singularity of Fragments lies in its depiction of life not during but after The Holocaust. Adopted by a Swiss family, little Binjamin endures yet new torments. He is trapped in a world of Holocaust deniers. “Forget it — it’s a bad dream,” his mother screams. “It was only a bad dream…. You’re not to think about it any more.” “Here in this country,” he chafes, “everyone keeps saying I’m to forget, and that it never happened, I only dreamed it. But they know all about it!” 

Even at school, “the boys point at me and make fists and yell: ‘He’s raving, there’s no such thing. Liar! He’s crazy, mad, he’s an idiot.’ ” (An aside: They were right.) Pummeling him, chanting anti-Semitic ditties, all the Gentile children line up against poor Binjamin, while the adults keep taunting, “You’re making it up!” 

Driven to abject despair, Binjamin reaches a Holocaust epiphany. “The camp’s still there — just hidden and well disguised. They’ve taken off their uniforms and dressed themselves up in nice clothes so as not to be recognized…. Just give them the gentlest of hints that maybe, possibly, you’re a Jew — and you’ll feel it: these are the same people, and I’m sure of it. They can still kill, even out of uniform.” 

More than a homage to Holocaust dogma, Fragments is the smoking gun: even in Switzerland — neutral Switzerland — all the Gentiles want to kill the Jews. 

Fragments was widely hailed as a classic of Holocaust literature. It was translated into a dozen languages and won the Jewish National Book Award, the Jewish Quarterly Prize, and the Prix de Memoire de la Shoah. Star of documentaries, keynoter at Holocaust conferences and seminars, fund-raiser for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Wilkomirski quickly became a Holocaust poster boy. Acclaiming Fragments a “small masterpiece,” Daniel Goldhagen was Wilkomirski’s main academic champion. Knowledgeable historians like Raul Hilberg, however, early on pegged Fragments as a fraud. Hilberg also posed the right questions after the fraud’s exposure: “How did this book pass as a memoir in several publishing houses? How could it have brought Mr. Wilkomirski invitations to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as well as recognized universities? How come we have no decent quality control when it comes to evaluating Holocaust material for publication?” 

Half-fruitcake, half-mountebank, Wilkomirski, it turns out, spent the entire war in Switzerland. He is not even Jewish. Listen, however, to the Holocaust industry postmortems:

Arthur Samuelson (publisher): Fragments “is a pretty cool book … It’s only a fraud if you call it non-fiction. I would then reissue it, in the fiction category. Maybe it’s not true — then he’s a better writer!” 

Carol Brown Janeway (editor and translator): “If the charges … turn out to be correct, then what’s at issue are not empirical facts that can be checked, but spiritual facts that must be pondered. What would be required is soul-checking, and that’s an impossibility.”

There’s more. Israel Gutman is a director of Yad Vashem and a Holocaust lecturer at Hebrew University. He is also a former inmate of Auschwitz. According to Gutman, “it’s not that important” whether Fragments is a fraud. “Wilkomirski has written a story which he has experienced deeply; that’s for sure…. He is not a fake. He is someone who lives this story very deeply in his soul. The pain is authentic.” So it doesn’t matter whether he spent the war in a concentration camp or a Swiss chalet; Wilkomirski is not a fake if his “pain is authentic”: thus speaks an Auschwitz survivor turned Holocaust expert. The others deserve contempt; Gutman, just pity. 

The New Yorker titled its expose of the Wilkomirski fraud “Stealing the Holocaust.” Yesterday Wilkomirski was feted for his tales of Gentile evil; today he is chastised as yet another evil Gentile. It’s always the Gentiles’ fault. True, Wilkomirski fabricated his Holocaust past, but the larger truth is that the Holocaust industry, built on a fraudulent misappropriation of history for ideological purposes, was primed to celebrate the Wilkomirski fabrication. He was a Holocaust “survivor” waiting to be discovered. 

In October 1999, Wilkomirski’s German publisher, withdrawing Fragments from bookstores, finally acknowledged publicly that he wasn’t a Jewish orphan but a Swiss-born man named Bruno Doessekker. Informed that the jig was up, Wilkomirski thundered defiantly, “I am Binjamin Wilkomirski!” Not until a month later did the American publisher, Schocken, drop Fragments from its list. 

Consider now Holocaust secondary literature. A telltale sign of this literature is the space given over to the “Arab connection.” Although the Mufti of Jerusalem didn’t play “any significant part in the Holocaust,” [historian Peter] Novick reports, the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (edited by Israel Gutman) gave him a “starring role.” The Mufti also gets top billing in Yad Vashem: “The visitor is left to conclude,” [Israeli journalist] Tom Segev writes, “that there is much in common between the Nazis’ plans to destroy the Jews and the Arabs’ enmity to Israel.” At an Auschwitz commemoration officiated by clergy representing all religious denominations, Wiesel objected only to the presence of a Muslim qadi: “Were we not forgetting … Mufti Hajj Amin el-Husseini of Jerusalem, Heinrich Himmler’s friend?” Incidentally, if the Mufti figured so centrally in Hitler’s Final Solution, the wonder is that Israel didn’t bring him to justice like Eichmann. He was living openly right next door in Lebanon after the war. 

Especially in the wake of Israel’s ill-fated invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and as official Israeli propaganda claims came under withering attack by Israel’s “new historians,” apologists desperately sought to tar the Arabs with Nazism. Famed historian Bernard Lewis managed to devote a full chapter of his short history of anti-Semitism, and fully three pages of his “brief history of the last 2,000 years” of the Middle East, to Arab Nazism. At the liberal extreme of the Holocaust spectrum, Michael Berenbaum of the Washington Holocaust Memorial Museum generously allowed that “the stones thrown by Palestinian youths angered by Israel’s presence … are not synonymous with the Nazi assault against powerless Jewish civilians.”

The most recent Holocaust extravaganza is Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Every important journal of opinion printed one or more reviews within weeks of its release. The New York Times featured multiple notices, acclaiming Goldhagen’s book as “one of those rare new works that merit the appellation landmark” (Richard Bernstein). With sales of half a million copies and translations slated for 13 languages, Hitler’s Willing Executioners was hailed in Time magazine as the “most talked about” and second best nonfiction book of the year. 

Pointing to the “remarkable research,” and “wealth of proof … with overwhelming support of documents and facts,” Elie Wiesel heralded Hitler’s Willing Executioners as a “tremendous contribution to the understanding and teaching of the Holocaust.” Israel Gutman praised it for “raising anew clearly central questions” that “the main body of Holocaust scholarship” ignored. Nominated for the Holocaust chair at Harvard University, paired with Wiesel in the national media, Goldhagen quickly became a ubiquitous presence on the Holocaust circuit. 

The central thesis of Goldhagen’s book is standard Holocaust dogma: driven by pathological hatred, the German people leapt at the opportunity Hitler availed them to murder the Jews. Even leading Holocaust writer Yehuda Bauer, a lecturer at the Hebrew University and director of Yad Vashem, has at times embraced this dogma. Reflecting several years ago on the perpetrators’ mindset, Bauer wrote: “The Jews were murdered by people who, to a large degree, did not actually hate them…. The Germans did not have to hate the Jews in order to kill them.” Yet, in a recent review of Goldhagen’s book, Bauer maintained the exact opposite: “The most radical type of murderous attitudes dominated from the end of the 1930s onward…. [B]y the outbreak of World War II the vast majority of Germans had identified with the regime and its anti-Semitic policies to such an extent that it was easy to recruit the murderers.” Questioned about this discrepancy, Bauer replied: “I cannot see any contradiction between these statements.” 

Although bearing the apparatus of an academic study, Hitler’s Willing Executioners amounts to little more than a compendium of sadistic violence. Small wonder that Goldhagen vigorously championed Wilkomirski: Hitler’s Willing Executioners is Fragments plus footnotes. Replete with gross misrepresentations of source material and internal contradictions, Hitler’s Willing Executioners is devoid of scholarly value. In A Nation on Trial, Ruth Bettina Birn and this writer documented the shoddiness of Goldhagen’s enterprise. The ensuing controversy instructively illuminated the inner workings of the Holocaust industry. 

Birn, the world’s leading authority on the archives Goldhagen consulted, first published her critical findings in the Cambridge Historical Journal. Refusing the journal’s invitation for a full rebuttal, Goldhagen instead enlisted a high-powered London law firm to sue Birn and Cambridge University Press for “many serious libels.” Demanding an apology, a retraction, and a promise from Birn that she not repeat her criticisms, Goldhagen’s lawyers then threatened that “the generation of any publicity on your part as a result of this letter would amount to a further aggravation of damages.” 

Soon after this writer’s equally critical findings were published in New Left Review, Metropolitan, an imprint of Henry Holt, agreed to publish both essays as a book. In a front-page story, the Forward warned that Metropolitan was “preparing to bring out a book by Norman Finkelstein, a notorious ideological opponent of the State of Israel.” The Forward acts as the main enforcer of “Holocaust correctness” in the United States. 

Alleging that “Finkelstein’s glaring bias and audacious statements … are irreversibly tainted by his anti-Zionist stance,” ADL head Abraham Foxman called on Holt to drop publication of the book: “The issue … is not whether Goldhagen’s thesis is right or wrong but what is ‘legitimate criticism’ and what goes beyond the pale.” “Whether Goldhagen’s thesis is right or wrong,” Metropolitan associate publisher Sara Bershtel replied, “is precisely the issue.” 

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the pro-lsrael New Republic, intervened personally with Holt president Michael Naumann. “You don’t know who Finkelstein is. He’s poison, he’s a disgusting self-hating Jew, he’s something you find under a rock.” Pronouncing Holt’s decision a “disgrace,” Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, opined, “If they want to be garbagemen they should wear sanitation uniforms.” 

“I have never experienced,” Naumann later recalled, “a similar attempt of interested parties to publicly cast a shadow over an upcoming publication.” The prominent Israeli historian and journalist, Tom Segev, observed in Haaretz that the campaign verged on “cultural terrorism.” 

As chief historian of the War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Section of the Canadian Department of Justice, Birn next came under attack from Canadian Jewish organizations. Claiming that I was “anathema to the vast majority of Jews on this continent,” the Canadian Jewish Congress denounced Birn’s collaboration in the book. Exerting pressure through her employer, the CJC filed a protest with the Justice Department. This complaint, joined to a CJC-backed report calling Birn “a member of the perpetrator race” (she is German-born), prompted an official investigation of her. 

Even after the book’s publication, the ad hominem assaults did not let up. Goldhagen alleged that Birn, who has made the prosecution of Nazi war criminals her life’s work, was a purveyor of anti-Semitism, and that I was of the opinion that Nazism’s victims, including my own family, deserved to have died. Goldhagen’s colleagues at the Harvard Center for European Studies, Stanley Hoffmann and Charles Maier, publicly lined up behind him. 

Calling the charges of censorship a “canard,” The New Republic maintained that “there is a difference between censorship and upholding standards.” A Nation on Trial received endorsements from the leading historians on the Nazi holocaust, including Raul Hilberg, Christopher Browning and Ian Kershaw. These same scholars uniformly dismissed Goldhagen’s book; Hilberg called it “worthless.” Standards, indeed. 

Consider, finally, the pattern: Wiesel and Gutman supported Goldhagen; Wiesel supported Kosinski; Gutman and Goldhagen supported Wilkomirski. Connect the players: this is Holocaust literature. 

The preceding text is excerpted from the second chapter of The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering (London: Verso, 2000)

Undersea Landslide Could be US, Europe Threat

The Independent

            The East Coast of the United States could be hit by giant ocean waves if a dormant volcano on the other side of the Atlantic erupts. An eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands could cause a massive landslide that would generate massive waves that would sweep across the Atlantic, inundating coastal areas from Maine to Florida.

The energy released by the collapse would be equal to the electricity consumption of the entire United States in half a year. Waves as high as 330 feet would race across the Atlantic. The tsunami would be capable of traveling up to 500 miles an hour and would strike parts of the Eastern Seaboard within nine hours.

According to geophysicists Steven N. Ward of the University of California at Santa Cruz and Simon Day of University College, London, an eruption could send a wave nearly 70- feet high crashing into Florida, while giant waves could also slam Africa, the west Sahara bearing the worst of the wave’s energy. The Caribbean and northeast South America would also be hit. Waves hitting Europe would be smaller, but would slam the coasts of Britain, Spain, Portugal and France.

Ward and Day describe the worst case results of a potential collapse in their paper published in the Sept. 1st issue of Geophysical Research Letters. They note that the rift across Cumbre Vieja runs north to south, with the potential for collapse on the western side of the volcano facing the Americas. Within five minutes of the collapse, a wave 1,500 feet high would head 30 miles out to sea; after 10 minutes it would go down to 900 feet and slam into nearby islands; ater 15 minutes to 60 minutes the series of waves would move outward, with 150-foot crests arriving at the African coast. Spain and England would experience waves of 15 feet to 20 feet because the island of La Palma blocks most of the waves in that direction.

After six or more hours, waves of 30 feet or so would arrive at Newfoundland and 45-foot to 60-foot waves would strike the northeast coast of South America. After about nine hours the East Coast of the United States would experience waves ranging from 30 feet to 70 feet tall.

The Cumbre Vieja last erupted in 1949 and has not shown any recent indications of activity. The volcano is on the island of La Palma, off Africa’s northwest coast. Such an event is an unlikely worst-case scenario, Ward says. “Let’s not scare people. Certainly there is no indication that this will happen anytime soon.”

“Even when there is an eruption, the probability of collapse is low,” Day adds. “Eruptions of Cumbre Vieja occur at intervals of decades to a century or so and there may be a number of eruptions before its collapse.”

The most recent tsunami on the East Coast occurred in 1929 when a landslide off Newfoundland created a large wave that killed 30 people in Nova Scotia, Day says.

Unlike surface waves, tsunamis reach all the way to the ocean floor. In mid-ocean they may hardly be noticeable, but as they approach shore, the ocean floor rises and so do the waves above it.

Peter Lipman, a volcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, agrees that the threat exists and he is also cautious about when such a disaster might occur. “These oceanic island volcanoes are, in geologic time, very subject to exactly the kind of process they describe,” he says. “Volcanoes try to keep on adding lava to a steep slope and eventually they get the slope so loaded that it fails. I don’t see this as something that is likely to happen very often at La Palma, but it had a failure like this half a million years ago and will again in the future.”

Volcanologist Tom Simkin of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History agrees that the threat, though small, does exist. “We all know that big landslides do happen. It doesn’t happen very often, but often enough that we ought to be paying attention to it,” he says.   


Food prices to double by 2030, Oxfam warns

Charity says era of permanent food crisis will hit poorest people hardest and spark social unrest May 31, 2001by Felicity LawrenceGuardian/UK

            The average price of staple foods will more than double in the next 20 years, leading to an unprecedented reversal in human development, Oxfam has warned.

            The world’s poorest people, who spend up to 80% of their income of food, will be hit hardest according to the charity. It said the world is entering an era of permanent food crisis, which is likely to be accompanied by political unrest and will require radical reform of the international food system.

Research to be published on Wednesday forecasts international prices of staples such as maize could rise by as much as 180% by 2030, with half of that rise due to the impacts of climate change.

After decades of steady decline in the number of hungry people around the world, the numbers are rapidly increasing as demand outpaces food production. The average growth rate in agricultural yields has almost halved since 1990 and is set to decline to a fraction of 1% in the next decade.

A devastating combination of factors – climate change, depleting natural resources, a global scramble for land and water, the rush to turn food into biofuels, a growing global population, and changing diets – have created the conditions for an increase in deep poverty.

“We are sleepwalking towards an age of avoidable crisis,” Oxfam’s chief executive, Barbara Stocking, said. “One in seven people on the planet go hungry every day despite the fact that the world is capable of feeding everyone. The food system must be overhauled.”

Oxfam called on the prime minister, David Cameron, and other G20 leaders to agree new rules to govern food markets. It wants greater regulation of commodities markets to contain volatility in prices.

It said global food reserves must be urgently increased and western governments must end biofuels policies that divert food to fuel for cars.

It also attacked excessive corporate concentration in the food sector, particularly in grain trading and in seed and agrochemicals.

The Oxfam report followed warnings from the UN last week that food prices are likely to hit new highs in the next few weeks, triggering unrest in developing countries. The average global price of cereals jumped by 71% to a new record in the year to April last month.

Drought in the major crop-growing areas of Europe and intense rain and tornadoes in the US have led to fears of shortfalls in this year’s crops.

The World Bank warned last month that rising food prices have pushed 44 million people into poverty since last June.

Israel raises alarm over Sinai-Gaza cooperation


September 28, 2011


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak both warned in interviews published on Wednesday that the situation in Egypt’s Sinai poses a “very troubling” threat to Israel.

After Egypt’s revolution which toppled president Hosni Mubarak, security in the Sinai peninsula has deteriorated, with Cairo sending troops into the area to try to bring it back under control.

Israel says a deadly attack on its south last month was staged partly from Sinai, and Netanyahu warned that forces hostile to peace between Egypt and Israel were exploiting the security vacuum in the area.

“There are a lot of forces that are seeking to undermine that peace, seeking to roll it back, seeking to use the Sinai not merely as a staging area for attacks from Gaza but seeking to use Gaza as a staging area for attacks from Sinai,” he told the Jerusalem Post in an interview published on Wednesday.

“This is obviously a very troubling development,” he said. “I hope that the importance of maintaining the peace is understood by all the parties in Egypt. I think this message was given to the Egyptians very clearly by the United States.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Maariv daily, Barak also sounded the alarm over the situation in Sinai, saying it had prompted Israel to agree to an increased Egyptian military presence in the area — as required by the terms of the 1979 peace treaty — in a bid to improve security there.

“But can I tell you that it is solved? It is not solved,” he said. “Sinai is an important asset for every Egyptian leadership, but I don’t think that the leadership is in full control.”

Barak said a tug-of-war was under way between the military council now ruling Egypt and the protesters who overthrew the Mubarak regime earlier this year.

Netanyahu also spoke af Israel’s broken relationship with Turkey in an interview with the Israel HaYom newspaper, saying the Jewish state “had not given up on Turkey” although he said it was unlikely the once-close relationship between the two would ever be the same.

“I don’t know if Turkey will ever return to the place it was. Turkey has decided to take a different path. If it wishes to check this escalation and normalise ties, we will, of course, be prepared to do so immediately,” he said.

“The present Turkish government has decided to adopt a belligerent foreign policy,” he said.

Ties between the once-close allies were badly damaged by an Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship which was part of Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May 2010, in which nine Turkish nationals were killed.

The diplomatic crisis has worsened in recent weeks with Ankara expelling the Israeli ambassador and suspending all military ties and defence trade.

Barak blamed Turkey’s increasingly hawkish foreign policy vis-a-vis Israel on Ankara’s desire for status in the region which he said was ignited by its failure to join the European Union.

“This did not begin yesterday or with the Mavi Marmara. The formative event was what happened with the European Union,” Barak said, insisting: “We have no interest in quarrelling with Turkey.

“Turkey is one of the four most important states in the Middle East, along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iran. When Saudi Arabia is shrinking, and Egypt is undergoing what it is undergoing, and Iran is hostile, we have no interest in heating up the crisis.”



Conversations with the Crow


            When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.

                        Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

          Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:


Here is the ninety-fifth  chapter

Conversation No. 95

Date: Friday, August 1, 1997 

Commenced: 9:35 AM CST

Concluded: 9:50 AM CST

GD: Some unknown person with the name of Vitter called me early today and offered me what he called very secret and important CIA documents. He said they would be important for my Mueller books or perhaps something to be published in the Spotlight or some such paper. Now, in the first place, Robert, I have an unlisted phone number under another name. The obvious question is how this jerk got the number? Not ever published nor in the phone book. One of yours?

RTC: Could be. Did he give you a call back number?

GD: No. I asked for one and he waffled on me.

RTC: Well, what can I say?

GD: Well, I pretended to be interested but said, very clearly, that if these were classified documents, I would not be interested in them. Seemed to lose steam after that.

RTC: They never seem to think these things out fully. I get calls about you and how evil you are and why I should never, ever, ever talk to you. They come from concerned friends like Kimmel, Corson and Trento plus Bruce Lee and others. I thank them for their concern and hang up.

GD: Oh, some person with a tiny brain went to the place where I get my mail and tried to find out where I lived but never got to first base. The owner called me up and told me all about it. He went outside and got their license number so I can find out where they live.

RTC: Not an outraged husband, Gregory?

GD: I never mess with married women, Robert. No, some official pinhead. My house and utilities are in my son’s name and the phone is on under the name of Buster Minge so I  imagine these twits must have a merry time.

RTC: Minge?

GD: A woman’s private parts in Cockney, Robert. Shame on me corrupting you at your age. I love it when the boobery get me with a wrong number. They want to know if Lucinda is home. I don’t tell them they have the wrong number. I say that Lucinda is up with a customer now and I can have her call back when she’s finished.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: Or if some creep wants to talk to Maudie Mae at one in the morning, I act very sad and tell them Maudie passed early this morning and the visitation will be tomorrow. When they get all upset, I tell them that it was for the best, what with the police after her and all. Or that her doctor said she was a real venereal Typhoid Mary.

RTC: (Laughter) I’ll just bet you do this, Gregory.

GD: Oh, with glee. Or if it’s a free thinking type, and they ask for Clyde, I tell them with a lowered voice that I can’t talk now because the police are there. One jerk shouted to someone that they had found the stash. Always keep them off guard, Robert, and try to keep their bowels open. Or if someone calls up and asks for Annie, and it’s a man, I tell them that I’ve moved in now and Annie doesn’t want to talk to them any more. Not for nothing Heini Mueller called me Mr. Sunshine. Eh, Robert?

RTC: You missed your calling, Gregory.

GD: What is my calling Robert? A werewolf?

RTC: A disturber of the peace.

GD: A disturber of the peace is someone who shines a spotlight on cars parked at a drive in movie.

RTC: How do you spell that? Peace I mean.

GD: Well, you can spell it two ways, Robert. Pay your money and take your choice. I worked the desk at an upscale hotel in Canada once and my co-worker was even more warped than I was. Put a small speaker into one of the booths in the ladies’ toilet and used to get on the mike and ask some squatting tubbo to please move over to the next stall because they were painting back behind her. We could hear the screaming in the lobby sometimes. Of course once he put a very lifelike rubber baby down into one of the heads along with the contents of a bottle of red ink. Tiny pink feet in a sea of red   And Moses not in sight. That got the cops out there and the day manager was not amused.

RTC: You would never last with us, Gregory.

GD: No, your people have no sense of humor but a very inflated sense of your importance. Remember, Robert, that man proposes but God disposes.

RTC: I hope you don’t expose poor Tom to your little adventures.

GD: I have and like Queen Victoria, Tom is not amused.

RTC: Well, I am used to you but I doubt if he ever could be.

GD: Tom takes himself too seriously. And imagine the fun I could have in your office down at Langley? I would take an official note form, address it to one of the bigwigs and scribble a note on it that you could only read a few words of. Jesus H. Christ, can you imagine the frenzy when the words are ‘missile launch at noon’, ‘sorry to tell you about your wife,’ or ‘left the whole secret file on the bus’?

RTC: (Laughter) Yes, as I said, you wouldn’t last very long.

GD: No, but I would have some fun while I lasted.

(Concluded at 9:50 AM CST) 

Dramatis personae: 


            James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy

            James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.

             William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.

            John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.

            James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.

            Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.

             Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.

             Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organization eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.

             Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired, lives in Florida, and works for the CIA as an “advisor.”

            Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.

             Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller  became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.

            Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.

            Frank Wisner: A Founding Father of the CIA who promised much to the Hungarians and then failed them. First, a raging lunatic who was removed from Langley, screaming, in a strait jacket and later, blowing off the top of his head with a shotgun.

            Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers specializing in creative writing. Although he prefers to be called ‘Dr,’ in reality he has no PhD.

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